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Patriots practice update: Stephon Gilmore returns, Dont'a Hightower among absentees, new player spotted

New England returned to practice today.

NFL: Houston Texans at New England Patriots Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots returned to the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium earlier today to start preparations for their upcoming game against the Los Angeles Chargers. Later today, the team will release its first injury report of the week and officially announce attendance. Based on media reports, however, we can already report the following from today's practice.

CB Stephon Gilmore returns

After a concussion forced the Patriots' high-priced free agency acquisition to miss the last two weeks worth of practices and games, Stephon Gilmore returned today. The above-mentioned injury report will reveal whether or not he was limited but no matter his status, Gilmore's return points to him being available for Sunday's game against Los Angeles.

LB Dont'a Hightower, WR Danny Amendola among absentees

The Patriots did not only miss Gilmore against the Atlanta Falcons but were also without Eric Rowe (groin) and Harvey Langi (back). Both are expected to miss additional time due to their respective injuries and unsurprisingly were not spotted today. The list of absentees also included two players, who suffered injuries on Sunday: Dont'a Hightower (shoulder) and Malcom Brown (ankle). Wideout Danny Amendola was also not spotted, the reason for which is unclear at the time.

New player spotted; Langi to non-football injury list?

The Patriots had a new defender on the field today wearing jersey number 96. The mystery player appears to be a new signee and with all members of the practice squad present could take over a spot on the 53-man roster. The logical candidate to give up his spot would be the above-mentioned Harvey Langi. The undrafted rookie is expected to miss the remainder of the season due to injuries sustained in a car crash; placing him on the non-football injury list appears to be a realistic move to clear a roster spot.